Family and friends get tattoos in memory of Jess
THE family and close friends of Ruislip girl Jess Shepherd, who passed away on September 7 after a seven-year battle with cancer, have got matching tattoos to remember her forever.
Ranging in age from 22 to 62, they had Jess’s hashtag #roarforjess, which supporters across the world and some celebrities tweeted in her honour, as tattoos at a West Drayton parlour.
Close family members even had some of Jess’s ashes mixed with the ink to create a more tangible connection to her.
Jess’s aunt Cheryl English had a large piece done with one of her favourite quotes – “Don’t be sad, it’s a waste of a day” – as a tribute to Jess’s relentlessly positive attitude.
Steve Evans from Mantra 2 Tattoo wanted to help them create a lasting memorial and raise awareness of neuroblastoma, the rare cancer Jess suffered from, having followed her story for years.
Jess’s grandmother Louise Walker said: “As a family we wanted to do something unique that would leave us a permanent reminder of our beautiful Jess.
“We decided we all wanted matching tattoos and chose Jess’s hashtag #roarforjess.
“Some of our close friends who had supported us during this journey also wanted to have the tattoo, so we had a unusual memorial day.
“Close family had Jess’s ashes added to the ink, forever etched on our hearts and now on our skin.”
She added that Steve, who is donating all profits to Neuroblastoma UK, was “absolutely wonderful, especially with those who had never had a tattoo before”.
She said: “It was Jess’s grandfather Steve’s first tattoo but it wasn’t as bad as he expected.
“Steve was brilliant at keeping everything calm and relaxed.”
This special act of mourning comes just under two months after Jess’s FUNeral, which she organised herself at Breakspear Crematorium on September 27.
Mourners, all dressed in pink as it was Jess’s favourite colour, gathered at lunchtime for a uniquely cheerful ceremony, filling both the main and overflow chapel.
Outside the streets were decorated with pink balloons and ribbons in both Ruislip and Harefield, where Jess went to school, and well-wishers clapped as her bright pink hearse drove by.
The service was conducted by celebrant Karen Hopkins and both Jess’s mother, Danielle White, and her grandmother, Louise Walker, spoke.
Jess’s gran Louise described how Jess planned her own funeral when it became clear she was nearing the end of her life, adding that “she did not want anyone to be sad and she wanted them to have fun”.
One attendee, Eoin Hannan, 64, a friend of Jess’s mother, stayed true to Jess’s wishes by coming dressed as the Pink Panther.
Jess picked all her own music, which included Circle of Life from The Lion King, one of her favourite films, All About That Bass by Meghan Trainer and Zip-a-dee-doo-dah from Song of the South, as she nicknamed her grandmother Doo-dah.
Her favourite song Roar by Katy Perry, which celebrant Karen noted had “lyrics that could have been written for her”, was also played, having recently been dedicated to Jess by the singer at a concert in June.
Perry is one of many celebrities to have shown support for Jess after being contacted by her friends and family on social media, who all used the #roarforjess hashtag that inspired the tattoos.
Mourners were asked to dance to All About The Bass as a moving tribute to Jess’s love of dancing and relentlessly positive attitude, as typified by her common saying that being sad is a “waste of a day”.
Mum Danielle said: “Despite the hand she was dealt, she always insisted on living life to the fullest. I really did not want to let her go.”
Grandmother Louise said: “I would like to thank everybody who decorated Harefield and Ruislip so beautifully. You made us cry in the car all the way here.”
She also thanked Harefield Infant and Primary schools, where Jess studied, for supporting her granddaughter so well.
She added: “I do not think a day ever went by when she did not want to be at school. There were times when I had to say you are not going and she would not speak to me for hours.
“But our biggest thank you is to Jess’s medical teams, who have worked tirelessly over the last four and half years. We love you dearly.
Even outside the grounds of Breakspear Crematorium, Jess’s impact was being felt, as the streets of Harefield and her home Ruislip were garlanded in pink in her memory.
Passers-by clapped as her bright pink hearse drove by and many shops had pink window displays or signs with her name.
Street lamps were festooned with pink balloons and multiple residents posted pictures to Facebook of the decorations put up by her loved ones and supporters.
One organiser posted to Facebook that they would leave the decorations up for a week in her honour before beginning to take them down.
In addition to her “FUNeral”, Jess also organised an “afterlife party” in Harefield at the Harefield Cricket Club for her siblings and all her friends.
It featured amusements like a bouncy castle and a visit by “Miss Ballooniverse”, a performer she had met previously at charity events.
Family and close friends got matching #roarforjess tattoos in memory of Jess Shepherd
Cheryl English, Jess’s aunt, had a large tattoo done with one of her favourite sayings
Jess’s grandfather Steve got his first ever tattoo